Most benefits specialists hold a B.A. degree in human resources business administration or finance. Individuals who are interested in advancing into managerial positions in this field generally study for an M.A. or MBA degree. The majority of benefits specialists also go to regular training seminars to stay abreast of changes in benefits law.
What you study:
You’ll study all of the following in a benefits-focused human resources or business administration program:
- Personnel Management
- Data Analysis
- Employment Law
- Compensation and Benefits Systems
- Budgeting and Financial Management
- Professional Ethics
A Day in the Life
As an employee benefits specialist you are a key contact person in your company or organization regarding all employee benefits programs. You arrive at work each day right as your office opens. You start your day off by checking your phone and email messages. An employee from one of your company’s retail stores left a message with questions about enrolling in the 401k retirement plan. You call him and explain to him that he’ll be able to enroll in the plan in about three weeks. It’s your job to ensure that all employees understand benefits plans so you prepare a 401k enrollment packet and send it to the store where he works.
After you’ve finished with your phone messages you check in with the benefits manager at your company. You remind her that you’re holding an informal lunch get-together to explain details of a new insurance supplementation plan to your employees. It’s important that all employees are aware of this program so you take a quick tour of your office to remind everyone that they are welcome to come to the luncheon.
You return to your office and review new benefits enrollment packets that have been sent in from your company’s various retail locations. You enter all new employee enrollment information in your company’s human resources information system (HRIS) and prepare letters to let new employees know about their benefits effective dates. After completing the enrollments you head to the conference room and prepare for your benefits luncheon.
During lunch you explain a new insurance supplement program to employees. You field questions about the program and explain the tax consequences of participating in this supplement program. After you’ve finished your presentation you assist employees who want to enroll in the program. You enter enrollment information into the HRIS system once you’ve returned to your office.
You spend your afternoon handling paperwork and routine employee questions about benefits programs. Before you head home for the day you check in with your boss and let her know that you have time to work on a new benefits budget tomorrow. You check your email one last time before enjoying a relaxing evening away from the office.
Certifications and Licensing
You don’t need a special certification in order to work as a benefits specialist. However many professionals in this field pursue certification through the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists (ISCEBS).
Full-time versus part-time:
Most employee benefits specialists work a full-time schedule. However you may be able to work a part-time schedule if you have some prior experience in this field. You’ll work a regular weekday schedule. You may travel a few times a year to any satellite locations that your company runs.
You’ll work in a standard office setting with other members of a human resources team. Depending on the needs of your company you may be permitted to telecommute to work a few days a week. However you will maintain an office because you are responsible for storing sensitive employee records.
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Human Resources Specialists: The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a wide range of information about careers in the field of human resources. While the information on this site is not specific to benefits specialists individuals who are interested in careers in this field will find useful information about career outlooks in HR. It’s important to consult other sites that offer a more focused perspective on careers in benefits.
- The International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists: ISCEBS is the premier organization for benefits specialists. In addition to offering information about certification in this field the ISCEBS website also hosts a job board and has a comprehensive resource library for members.
- The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: The IFEPB website provides general information about benefits and compensation practices. While the site is designed for professionals with experience in benefits management prospective benefits specialists will find great information by browsing the Resources and Education sections of the site.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Birmingham – Hoover||$59150||160||0.03%|
|AR||Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers||$43370||110||0.06%|
|AR||Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway||$40860||390||0.12%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$50590||1200||0.07%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$58050||70||0.02%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$62700||3180||0.08%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$65290||1050||0.11%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$61990||280||0.10%|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$61180||560||0.05%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$59080||2180||0.27%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$61440||960||0.08%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$70650||1340||0.13%|
|CA||San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara||$85390||870||0.10%|
|CA||San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles||$59000||50||0.05%|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$64280||1330||0.09%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$56920||N/A||N/A|
|CA||Santa Cruz – Watsonville||$53660||50||0.06%|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$68400||100||0.06%|
|CA||Vallejo – Fairfield||$62700||120||0.10%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$49990||40||0.03%|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$65560||870||0.07%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$57040||40||0.03%|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$60580||430||0.10%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$59940||570||0.10%|
|CT||Norwich – New London||$51960||110||0.08%|
|DC||Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)||$69250||2180||0.09%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$57810||210||0.07%|
|FL||Cape Coral – Fort Myers||$55560||60||0.03%|
|FL||Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach||$47510||60||0.04%|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$61010||340||0.05%|
|FL||Lakeland – Winter Haven||$54810||100||0.05%|
|FL||Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)||$63660||390||0.04%|
|FL||North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota||$49470||70||0.03%|
|FL||Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$53380||430||0.04%|
|FL||Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville||$53250||80||0.04%|
|FL||Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent||$54120||50||0.03%|
|FL||Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$56280||550||0.05%|
|FL||West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$55950||160||0.03%|
|GA||Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta||$60850||1670||0.07%|
|GA||Augusta – Richmond County||$46400||30||0.02%|
|IA||Davenport – Moline – Rock Island||$48740||80||0.04%|
|IA||Des Moines – West Des Moines||$57300||290||0.09%|
|IA||Waterloo – Cedar Falls||$48560||30||0.04%|
|ID||Boise City – Nampa||$47230||80||0.03%|
|IL||Bloomington – Normal||$64260||N/A||N/A|
|IL||Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)||$58630||1570||0.04%|
|IL||Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)||$58280||220||0.06%|
|IN||Gary (Metro Area)||$59680||110||0.04%|
|IN||Indianapolis – Carmel||$53490||560||0.06%|
|IN||South Bend – Mishawaka||$46390||40||0.03%|
|KY||Lexington – Fayette||$35580||130||0.05%|
|KY||Louisville – Jefferson County||$46390||250||0.04%|
|LA||New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner||$46410||190||0.04%|
|LA||Shreveport – Bossier City||$59100||50||0.03%|
|MA||Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)||$73250||2510||0.15%|
|MA||Brockton – Bridgewater – Easton (Metro Area)||$63340||30||0.04%|
|MA||Framingham (Metro Area)||$65630||200||0.13%|
|MA||Haverhill – North Andover – Amesbury (Metro Area)||$55960||40||0.06%|
|MA||Lawrence – Methuen – Salem (Metro Area)||$56910||30||0.05%|
|MA||Lowell – Billerica – Chelmsford (Metro Area)||$68340||140||0.12%|
|MA||Peabody (Metro Area)||$66990||40||0.04%|
|MA||Taunton – Norton – Raynham (Metro Area)||$66950||40||0.09%|
|MD||Baltimore – Towson||$56090||760||0.06%|
|MD||Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)||$72540||420||0.08%|
|ME||Portland – South Portland – Biddeford||$53250||80||0.04%|
|MI||Detroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area)||$57780|